21st August 2009
"Excuse me?" I said, Isabelle's words not quite sinking in. "You're going to sue my father for the action he took against you by taking us away."
"What kind of heartless creature are you?" I said, dazed. "Our father has nothing he can give you so why bother dragging him to court over something that happened years ago."
"Because I have lost fifteen years of my life with you. Surely I should get some sort of payment for that loss. He took you away from me and wouldn't let me see you. How do you think that made me feel?"
"I don't doubt it was horrible for you, but I can assure you that if you decide to go through with what you're suggesting then you'll be missing out on another fifteen years of my life." I grabbed my bag from under the table and put my jacket on with a little more violence that necessary.
"But you were right about me," I continued. "I will stay loyal to my father because I know that he is a good man and he did what he thought was best. It might have been a poor judgement, but he thought it was the right thing to do and I stand by him for that. He brought us up well and despite the mistakes he has made I love him."
I took a deep breath, realising I hadn't paused throughout my entire speech. "Come on Rupert," I said. "Let's go."
I was glad when my brother did exactly as I said, not talking back to me and gathering his things without a word.
"I'm sorry you feel this way," Isabelle said. "But this is something I have to do."
"Then I'll see you in another fifteen years," I said coldly, turning my back on her and walking out of the restaurant, leaving her to pay the bill.
"Evelyn," Lewis called after me, taking my arm. "I have to stay with Isabelle for the moment but call me when you get to your hotel safely." He handed me a card with his number on it. "I'll finish up here and then come by your hotel to take you to the station. If that's what you want."
"Thank you Lewis," I said, hugging him tightly. "I appreciate your kindness."
"It's the least I can do after the way I treated you before."
"How many times do I have to say I forgive you?"
"Until I can make myself believe it's true. Remember to call me," he said over his shoulder as he walked back into the restaurant.
12th July 2010
Lewis was one of the best friends I could have had over the following months. He came to visit me as often as he could in Dorset and said I was very welcome to come and stay with him if I ever needed to get away from anything. I said I wouldn't need it but as the court case drew nearer I found that the rising tension in my house was too much to bear and I spent most of my time in Lewis's tiny London flat.
He told me everything that was going on with the case as my father wouldn't tell us anything about it. Over the few months before the case began I saw him visibly grow older as the stress began to mount up and continued to insist that he was alright. He wouldn't even tell us when the first court hearing was so we could go along and support him.
Luckily for me I had Lewis on my side so I knew when the hearing was so I could be there for my father when he needed me. But looking back now I wish I hadn't gone.
28th January 2010
I was surprised when I saw the camera crew waiting outside the court on the morning of the hearing. I hadn't realised that it was worth any media interest. I thought there might be some other important case being held here so I just ignored the cameras as I walked past.
Then as I reached the top of the steps I heard the press begin to get excited as a black cab drew up outside the court and cameras began to flash and men with microphones advanced on the cab. I craned my neck to see who was getting out of the cab and felt my heart stop when I saw it was my father.
Even though he was dressed in his one and only suit he still looked terrible. He clearly hadn't slept and he looked smaller than when I had seen him a few weeks before.
His eyes went up the steps to where I was standing at the top and I could see the sadness in his eyes.
He was hurried up the steps by a woman in a sharp suit who stepped out of the cab after him. I assumed she was his lawyer and hoped she was worth the money.
"What are you doing here?" My father whispered as he reached the top of the stairs. "You shouldn't have to see this."
"I wasn't going to leave you to do this on your own," I insisted as I followed him into the building. "I know I haven't been at home for the last few weeks and I'm sorry for that, but I'm here now and I'm not going to let you do this alone."
"I don't care what you say," my father said firmly, "you are not coming into this courtroom."
"Then I'll wait for you outside," I said, sitting down on one of the chairs lining the corridor. "Either way you are not leaving without me."
"I suppose I can't stop you waiting for me. Just promise me you won't come in. I don't want you to have to see what happens in here. No child should have to see their parents fighting against each other in court." He shook his head and turned to leave.
I watched him enter the courtroom and took my seat, preparing for the long, excruciating wait for him to come back out.